“Harry!”, curtly nodded Distro. “Oh hello Distro”, Harry nodded in return but Distro rushed away from the place as Harry stood there smiling, in the direction that Distro left. “There is a murmur that Distro doesn’t like you Harry”, said Pritter in a low voice. “I have a lot of respect for Distro”, dismissed Harry and picked up a piece of sugar as he left the camp. Pritter did the same and followed him.
“Ah! did you get assigned to trail me today Prit?”, asked Harry as Pritter tried to keep up pace with him. “Harry, please, you should tell us about your dist-ant competition at Antza and this tradition in your sector!”, requested Pritter referring to the piece of grain he was carrying. Harry briefly paused to look at his cadet and found a sincere but puzzled expression. “Are the results out for MTS yet for this antear?”, continued Pritter. “Tomorrow, Bubah will announce them”, Harry took a sharp turn at the end of the twig and quickly disappeared out of sight. Pritter shrugged and darted towards his sector, “this is too heavy, I should have cut it into half…”.
Harry’s sector was celebrating by next evening. Bubah announced that their sector has topped the MTS analysis yet again 5th time in row. Harry and his team along with their cadets assembled in the glade by the ant-hill for a brief celebration. “I was there when Bubah made the announcement, we topped the charts”, announced Herculant and all the cadets clapped their pincers in acknowledgement. “And we did it effortlessly”, Herc tried to continue but Harry interrupted, “no Herc, not effortlessly, but with conviction”. “Distro’s sector stood second and they were not happy”, Zappy spoke up, “they were certain they would top the charts this time but were disappointed!”, she continued.
“From the days at Antza…”, Harry paused, lost in his thoughts. And Pritter took the chance, “Bubah told us that your dist-ant competition at Antza was very interesting, you must tell us the story Harry”, he pleaded. Before Harry could dismiss it one more time, other cadets also urged Harry to narrate the story. Harry gave a momentary stare at Pritter and smiled. He then addressed the sector in a steady voice – “Dist-ant as you know is given to that ant cadet at Antza who ventures to go the farthest distance from the base. The fame of a dist-ant depends on how far he/she could go to make an impact to the colony. Distro and I were the best at our time at Antza. We set and broke our records throughout our stay there. One day he would venture farther and another day I would beat it and vice versa. This continued for a while.
Then one day I realized as I zapped past a dried honey droplet without picking it up. I have been covering good distance averting grave dangers but returning to base empty pincered. In the ant race of making most distance, we were beginning to lose the core purpose of this title – to make an impact to the colony by moving things that mattered! It was not enough to move farther and farther to leave a mark, but to actually make it count in a way that helps the colony. From then on, I ensured that I always carried something in my dist-ant traversals – food or information of new hideouts or carrying another cadet in need of help. Although Distro ended up clocking the most distance, I was awarded the dist-ant credit under the ‘distinguished’ category, which happened only twice so far in the history of our clan. Distro did not like it and he competed with me ever since. He is a good leader though and I respect him”, finished Harry as his cadets listened to him with all the intent that they could muster, as they feasted on their sugar and honey. “Harry saved my life on one such days”, Herc announced. “He carried me all the way back to the base and I vouched my lifetime of service to Harry ever since”, Herc spoke with gratitude.
“My decision not just earned me the award of dist-ant, but the elders of the clan announced MTS to all the sectors as a measure of efficiency of a sector in its contribution to the welfare of the clan”, Harry continued. “Aha! now we know where this is coming from”, Pritter hurled a small sugar piece in the air and smashed it into pieces. “Yes, but for me it felt like a calling of deeper purpose – the ECO rule of our sector“, Harry encouraged the cadets to speak up and they shouted in unison – “Each (ant) Car(ri)es for the Other“.
For other sectors, it feels like work, for us it defines who we are. Unless we are assigned on specific missions, we don’t move around without carrying and caring for the other – food, information or assisting another ant – Pritter recollected his first day induction message at Harry’s sector.
“Of course Herc sets the highest expectations for the rest of us, he can carry as many as 50 cadets at once”, Harry praised Herc, “and zappy could move the quickest in the clan despite of carrying a load”, Harry remarked. “Ever since Harry carried me back to base and saved my life, I have been doing the same with other cadets as an every day routine”, Herc humbly replied, “besides, it helps me exercise my strength!”.
As the proceedings concluded that evening, the cadets of the sector saw Harry picking up two pieces of grain on his way out of the glade towards the ant-hill, and they each followed suit. “We will top the charts every year in the ‘Move The Sugar‘ analysis”, they told each other as they held on to their bits walking out of the glade.